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What Is a Negligence Lawsuit?

If negligence led to physical, psychological or financial damages, some of your losses may be recoverable.
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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2014
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A negligence lawsuit is generally a civil case which alleges that a victim was subject to a harmfully low standard of care. Such cases are generally lodged against professionals such as doctors, therapists, and attorneys. It is essential to the outcome of these cases for the accuser to prove that harm resulted from the standard of service she received. Plaintiffs who win negligence lawsuits are usually awarded compensatory damages, punitive damages, or both.

When a person files a negligence lawsuit, she is suing for professional carelessness. It is expected by society and by law that professionals will perform their duties with a standard of care that prevents anyone from being harmed. In a negligence lawsuit, one of the major considerations is whether the accused acted reasonably.

Reasonable actions, in these cases, are generally determined by comparing the alleged behavior of the accused to the behavior that another professional would likely display. The individual who the accused is compared to must be his peer. For example, a civil rights lawyer would be compared to other civil rights lawyer, thereby creating a general standard. The accused cannot be compared to a bankruptcy lawyer unless the civil rights lawyer was acting in this capacity. A professional is generally held to the standard of the capacity in which he was acting.

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A negligence lawsuit falls into a category of law known as personal injury. One of the most essential elements in a negligence lawsuit is harm. A person may successfully prove that she was indeed subjected to substandard service or treatment. The law generally requires, however, she prove that she suffered as a result. This means that she must not only show that she experienced harm, but she must prove a connection between her suffering and the negligence.

It should be noted, however, that harm is not always physical pain. Consider, for example, a lawyer is hired to handle the legal affairs of a business and due to careless acts causes the business to lose a significant portion of its clientele. It may be possible for the business to sue for negligence.

In some instances, it is possible for a third party to initiate a negligence lawsuit on behalf of the victim. This is often seen with negligence claims that involve the elderly. Family members or civic organizations may file a lawsuit against a particular medical professional or nursing facility that harmed the elderly person. Some laws allow this to be done even after the victim is deceased.

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Discuss this Article

fBoyle
Post 3

Has anyone dealt with a negligence lawsuit case due to drunk driving?

I'm being taken to court for it and I'm wondering, am I guaranteed to lose?

fify
Post 2

@burcidi-- I think professionals like lawyers and doctors can be charged with all three. In some cases, misconduct is also considered negligence and negligence is also considered malpractice. I think it depends on the nature of the act and also the law of the state that one is in.

As far as I know, negligence means that someone neglected their duties or did not act as carefully as they should have and this resulted in some kind of harm to someone. A negligence lawsuit can be filed against anyone who has acted this way. But it's necessary to prove in court that 1) this person has these duties and 2) this person breached their duties resulting in harm.

I'm not too sure about misconduct and malpractice. But it sounds like misconduct doesn't imply that anyone was harmed, but rather that the person did not follow the regulations of his job. Malpractice is usually filed against doctors because they are bound by a conduct of care and it does imply that someone was harmed.

If anyone wants to add anything or clarify anything, please do. I'm not a legal expert so I might be wrong.

burcidi
Post 1

What's the difference between misconduct, negligence and malpractice? They all sound kind of similar. How do attorneys decide what type of lawsuit is suitable for a situation?

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